Touring Westerplatte in Gdańsk, Poland: The Place Where World War II Began

“Nigdy więcej wojny / Never More War” – Westerplatte, Poland.

Touring Westerplatte in Gdańsk, Poland: The Place Where World War II Began

Touring Westerplatte in Gdańsk, Poland: The Place Where World War II Began

It was another poignant journey for me as I headed to Westerplatte – the peninsula in  Gdańsk, Poland where World War II began. I know what you will tell me – I keep visiting the gory spots, you’re thinking:

iraq amna suraka kurdistan

All alone touring Saddam Hussein’s House of Horrors at Amna Suraka in Iraq.

Well yes, sometimes we need the horrors of the past to ensure they are not repeated. This time, I had been living in Gdańsk for almost 3 months before I ventured out here. I waited until my best buddy Millwall Neil arrived in town – we also toured the murals at Zaspa. It has been a tough year for me in life. After 2015 break up of my long term relationship with Panny, the struggle to keep motivated on the road, a mid life crisis and depression and some really strange events, this trip was needed. While it’s fresh in my head, I wanted to show something of my visit to Westerplatte and here it is for you, on this day, WORLD PEACE DAY.

Sharing some love on World Peace Day

Sharing some love on World Peace Day

Getting to Westerplatte
For getting to Westerplatte, without hitchhiking, you have a few options from Central Gdańsk:
1. Walk it (it’s miles away and hard to find)
2. Cycle it (shorter than walking but not the greatest place to cycle to)
3. Get a boat from the Stare Miasto in Gdańsk (this costs from 35 zloty and up, so not really within budget for us)
4. Tram then bus (the way we went)
5. Bus (the way we came back)

Boats from Gdansk to Westerplatte leave from the Stare Miasto, just past Zielona Brama

Boats from Gdansk to Westerplatte leave from the Stare Miasto, just past Zielona Brama

Boats from Gdansk to Westerplatte leave from the Stare Miasto, just past Zielona Brama

Boats from Gdansk to Westerplatte leave from the Stare Miasto, just past Zielona Brama

I hadn’t done much planning for it, so I decided we should get the tram and then try and get a bus. We got the number 3 tram from Gdańsk Główny as far as it went – to Stogi Pasanil. Tickets are 1.90 zloty for a student or 3.80 for an adult and are valid from an hour from when you board and stamp them. Buy tickets from a machine, from the kiosk or even from the driver.

The tram in Gdańsk

The tram in Gdańsk

The tram in Gdańsk

The tram in Gdańsk

Gdańsk Główny

Gdańsk Główny

Gdańsk Główny

Tram ticket from Gdańsk Główny

Then we got off at Stogi Pasanil, and admittedly got a bit lost and ended up having to get two buses, so instead of this take my advice from my mistakes and just get the 1 bus direct – the 138 bus! Bus tickets are the same as the tram ones, price wise and also valid for one hour from when stamped.

The bus in Gdańsk

The 138 bus in Gdańsk

The bus in Gdańsk

The bus timetable – 106 and 138 go to Westerplatte in Gdańsk

Gdańsk Główny

Gdańsk Główny

Gdańsk Główny

Buses to Westerplatte, Gdańsk

 

The bus in Gdańsk

The 106 bus in Gdańsk to Westerplatte

The bus in Gdańsk

By the highway waiting for the 106 bus to Westerplatte, Gdańsk

So we ended up getting the number 3 tram, then a bus, then the number 106 bus. To cut this all out, we should have just got the 138 bus from the start – it would only take around 40 minutes from Gdańsk Główny this way. For us, it took just over an hour but we made it.

Arrival at Westerplatte
We arrived at the main entrance sign for Westerplatte, so get off the bus here, the 106 or the 138 bus. You will see this huge sign on your right hand side. From here, you can start the trail all the way to the monument at the end of the outdoor museum.

Arrival at Westerplatte - we got off the bus here.

Arrival at Westerplatte – we got off the bus here.

By the entrance sign at Westerplatte - we got off the bus here.

By the entrance sign at Westerplatte – we got off the bus here.

Touring Westerplatte
From here, we read the small notice board, had a look out to sea and then walked through the custom made forest path. On the way through the path, there are notice boards written in Polish, English and Russian (thankfully and rightfully not in German).

The noticeboard at the entrance

The noticeboard at the entrance

Touring Westerplatte in Gdańsk, Poland: The Place Where World War II Began

Touring Westerplatte in Gdańsk, Poland: The Place Where World War II Began

The start of the path

The start of the path

Each board has a different story on it to be read.

Each board has a different story on it to be read.

A shelter

A shelter

Look out tower

Look out tower

Neil and I stop at various points, we climb the lookout tower and we read every information board, then we come to a clearing where there are bigger information boards. Neil notices they form an order, so he starts at number 1. I didn’t notice this until later, but we read them all anyway. If you arrive here, remember to track them in order from 1 to get the history of Westerplatte and Gdańsk.

View from the Lookout Tower

View from the Lookout Tower

Neil and I at the Lookout Tower

Neil and I at the Lookout Tower

At the Look out tower

At the Look out tower

It was a hot sunny day and I realised some odd parallels on my journey. By this stage, in September 2016 I had now hung up my backpack – I wasn’t really travelling anymore as I have a flat to live in here in Gdansk. However, I thought back to my first visit to Berlin in 2005, a trip where we later got the train to Warszawa. On the day we visited the Berlin Wall, I wore the same shirt as the one I had on today. And it wasn’t planned. My red and white quartered Northern Ireland shirt. But it felt like a parallel. I was sad both times.

First section of outdoor museum.

First section of outdoor museum.

First section of outdoor museum.

First section of outdoor museum.

First section of outdoor museum.

First section of outdoor museum.

You might have read before that I had been intrigued by Gdansk since learning about it in school and at Ards Tech. I studied the aftermath of World War I in European History and learnt about the Free City of Danzig. Despite this, I still felt disturbed when I saw the German Nazi Swastika flags on march through Gdansk. Who the fuck did Hitler think he was?

First section of outdoor museum.

First section of outdoor museum.

First section of outdoor museum.

First section of outdoor museum.

First section of outdoor museum.

First section of outdoor museum.

But the information boards are totally educational and don’t show the bias. This is true respect to Polish people in such a bad time. The World War started here in Poland – and it is debated between three places (I have now visited all three of them):

1.TCZEW, Poland – According to the official website in Tczew, Tczew was the location of the start of World War II when German bombers attacked Polish sapper installations to prevent the famous Most Tczewskie bridge from being blown up at 04:34 on 1 September 1939.

Daytime by the Bridge Where World War II Began (Mosty Tczewskie)

Daytime by the Bridge Where World War II Began (Mosty Tczewskie)

2. WESTERPLATTE, Gdańsk, Poland – The destruction of Westerplatte apparently commenced at 04:45 am on 1st September, meaning it was 11 minutes after the attack in Tczew.

Westerplatte, Gdansk, Poland where World War II began.

Westerplatte, Gdansk, Poland where World War II began.

3. THE POLISH POST OFFICE, Gdańsk, Poland – You read about my visit to the Polish Post Office. The phone lines here were cut at 4.00 am by the Germans, though the attacks started at 04.45 am so it can also be argued that the Second World War began in the Post Office.

At the front of the Post office in Gdansk, Poland.

At the front of the Post office in Gdansk, Poland.

So all three of those attacks were on the 1st September, all in the Pomerania Province of Poland. There is a lot of sad history in this region. Neil and I continued our walk, reading the rest of the information boards.

More information boards

More information boards

More information boards

More information boards

More information boards

More information boards

More information boards

More information boards

More information boards

More information boards

More information boards

More information boards

More information boards

More information boards

More information boards

More information boards

Just before the last section of Information Boards, there is a building which was destroyed in the attacks of 1939. It was built on three floors, with the top two floors being decoys, and therefore some people survived the attacks. The building has been maintained as part of this outdoor museum, but basically it lies in ruins as a reminder.

Destroyed

Information on the destroyed barracks building

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The destroyed barracks building

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The destroyed barracks building

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The destroyed barracks building

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The destroyed barracks building and names of those who lost their lives here.

Destroyed

The destroyed barracks building

After these barracks and the last set of information boards, you walk to a pleasant and peaceful park, where there are two main things to check out.

  1. The “Nigdy więcej wojny” (No More War / War – Never More) sign

In a grassy area, sits the peaceful message of freedom and love -“Nigdy więcej wojny”, meaning never more war, or no more war.

The "Nigdy więcej wojny" (No More War) sign

Me at The “Nigdy więcej wojny” (Never More War) sign

The "Nigdy więcej wojny" (No More War) sign

The “Nigdy więcej wojny” (Never More War) sign

The "Nigdy więcej wojny" (No More War) sign

Neil at The “Nigdy więcej wojny” (Never More War) sign

Flags of Poland, EU and Gdansk

Flags of Poland, EU and Gdansk

2. Westerplatte Monument

Then it’s a poignant walk up the steps to the Westerplatte Monument dedicated to those Polish defenders who lost their lives here. It’s a time to reflect. Neil and I sip some water, and head back.

Westerplatte Monument dedicated to those Polish defenders who lost their lives here.

Westerplatte Monument dedicated to those Polish defenders who lost their lives here.

Westerplatte Monument dedicated to those Polish defenders who lost their lives here.

Westerplatte Monument dedicated to those Polish defenders who lost their lives here.

Westerplatte Monument dedicated to those Polish defenders who lost their lives here.

Westerplatte Monument dedicated to those Polish defenders who lost their lives here.

westerplatte-monument-polish-soldiers-poland-best-travel-blog

Neil and I at the Westerplatte Monument dedicated to those Polish defenders who lost their lives here.

Leaving Westerplatte
We got the bus back to downtown Gdansk, this time the correct 138 bus and it took around 40 minutes. the journey back is unmemorable and unscenic and there is not much to see here. Neil dozed and I reflected.

Westerplatte looking back at Gdansk

Westerplatte looking back at Gdansk

I am releasing this article on my blog on WORLD PEACE DAY. I hope you all read it and felt the love and peace here. Have a beautiful and wonderful day and believe in love, peace, friendship. Follow my peaceful story on Facebook and also on Instagram.

Happiness and peace to all my Polish friends, especially Kasia, Rafal, Artur, Piotr, Marta, Zuza, Beata, Magda and Ola.

Here are some videos:

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About Jonny Blair

I'm Jonny Blair, a travelling Northern Irishman. Since leaving my hometown a decade ago I have managed to visit over 100 countries and over 600 towns or cities across all 7 continents. Along the way I have worked in countless jobs! Join my journey on Don't Stop Living - a lifestyle of travel as I provide you with tips and inspiration to live your travel dreams! Safe travels! Follow me on Jonny Blair Google Plus
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10 Responses to Touring Westerplatte in Gdańsk, Poland: The Place Where World War II Began

  1. Caroline says:

    Chilling that this place was where WWII began … great tour!

  2. Rosemarie Driscoll says:

    Great pictures of such a wonderful historical site! I’d love to visit it at least once.

  3. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Rosemarie, I am glad you like the photos. It is worth visiting of course, but a very poignant place. Safe travels, peace and love. Jonny

  4. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Caroline, thanks for the comment, yes a sad place really but needs to be seen when you are in deep depression and try and get through the bad times with peace and love. Safe travels. Jonny

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